Unlocking Innovation: Highlights from the REACH Labs Pitch Battle in Austin header image

Unlocking Innovation: Highlights from the REACH Labs Pitch Battle in Austin

By Bill Fowler | August 21, 2023


Even if you're a casual observer of the intersection between technology and real estate, you've probably had some exposure to NAR's REACH program. Since 2013, REACH program has been recruiting, counseling, and supporting young technology companies on their path to growth and prosperity in the real estate industry.

Since its inception, REACH has gained tremendous momentum within the proptech community, particularly in the last 5 years. More recently, the people behind REACH have taken this show on the road in the form of REACH Labs, which offers up-and-coming proptech companies a way to meet and present to MLSs and practitioners in their own backyard. Cities like Miami, Chicago, Denver, and Austin have been early hosts of the REACH Labs concept.

Back in June, my old friend Emily Chenevert, CEO of the Austin Board of REALTORS (and newly-rebranded Unlock MLS) introduced me to my new friend Christine Wren, Global Liaison at ABoR and UnlockMLS. Christine was putting together a REACH Labs event in Austin and asked for help identifying Austin-based companies.

My work with Modern.Tech has resulted in a vast network of proptech companies (100+ at last count) so I was thrilled to be able to contribute to a program as respected and noteworthy as REACH. I immediately submitted my candidates for the pitch battle.

For the uninitiated, a pitch battle is typically a live competition among participating companies, all on stage at an event. Each company is given a set time to pitch their product or service in front of an audience and/or panel of judges. Once all pitches are complete, the audience votes on which presentation was best overall.

Christine wanted help finding four Austin-based companies to participate in her pitch battle and I had some great candidates in the Modern.Tech network of proptech companies. Fast forward a few weeks and the stage was set, so to speak. My friends Caleb Jones of Ink, William Schoeffler of Hitch, and Adi Pavlović of Newzip graciously agreed to participate and three of the four presenters for the event were in place. Freemodel was the fourth company and is definitely worth checking out, by the way. Great work, John Garner!

The event itself, hosted at ABoR's offices, was really impressive. Christine and her staff have really perfected this entire process. The pitch battle (in the standing-room-only auditorium) went smoothly and I felt like each company represented exceptionally well. In the end, Caleb Jones took home the hardware, but honestly, I think the room was somewhat amazed by each of the products on display. Several people mentioned how surprising it was to have such talent and innovation taking place right there in Austin.

Being my first REACH Labs event, I wasn't sure what to expect, but again, Emily and Christine certainly set the bar high for other MLSs interested in hosting their own Labs event. Congratulations again to Caleb for winning the pitch battle! I'm eager to help execute the next Labs pitch battle in Austin, or an MLS near you!

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